There seems to be a positive shift in the readiness of World Diamond Council (WDC) members to reform the Kimberley Process (KP), says president of the organisation Edward Asscher.
In closing the 2022 KP Intersessional, which was hosted in Botswana last week, he highlighted that strong support for further reforms was becoming apparent, including that of the conflict diamond definition, which has been a long-standing issue of the KP.
The KP serves to certify rough diamond exports and reduce the flow of conflict diamonds – loosely defined as rough diamonds used to finance rebel movements or wars against governments around the world.
The current language limits the term to rough diamonds used by a rebel group to finance conflict, but excludes violence by ruling authorities. A revamp of the wording can only happen when all participating governments give their approval, and the KP itself lacks the authority to make that change.
Asscher has, on many occasions, shared his prediction of a two-tier diamond industry emerging, with one established tier of companies that can monitor their supply chains independently and meet consumer expectations, and the other seeing companies with diminished market share, often through no fault of their own.
The certification scheme, designed to eliminate the trade in so-called "blood diamonds", was set up in 2003 in the wake of devastating civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which were largely financed by the illicit diamond trade.
The WDC has requested that the current KP chair, Botswana, add the reform and review cycle to the draft agenda of the KP Plenary that is scheduled for November, so that discussions and work can start in 2023, under the incoming KP chair, Zimbabwe.
The chair oversees the implementation of the KP Certification Scheme and operations of working groups, committees and the administration that activates the KP.
Noting that he had begun the week of meetings with mixed feelings about prospects for progress, Asscher said he headed home with a more optimistic feeling about the cohesiveness of the KP.
“The glue that holds us together is not reliant on there being one-mindedness on each critical issue – it never has been – but rather on the common belief that natural diamonds should be an equitable resource for growth, development and hope, and bring better lives and wellbeing for all people involved.”
The ability of the KP to overcome differences during the week and conduct constructive discussions was possible because of the influence of the KP chair and the host country, Botswana, the WDC president noted.
“We have witnessed their humanity and wisdom,” Asscher added.